1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Alecsandri, Vasile

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ALECSANDRI, or Alexandri, VASILE (1821–1890), Rumanian lyric poet, was born at Bacau in Moldavia on the 21st of July 1821. His father was the Spatar Alecsandri, of Jewish and Italian origin, who had settled in Moldavia in the 18th century. Vasile was educated first in Jassy and afterwards (1834—1839) in Paris. In 1839 he started on a long journey through the Carpathian Mountains, and was the first to collect Rumanian popular songs, no doubt influenced by Western examples. He first published his collection in 1844. His Doine şi Lacrimioare, lyrical poems, appeared at Paris in 1852, and in 1852—1853 he produced at Jassy a fuller collection of popular ballads and songs. He then adapted some French plays for the newly founded Rumanian theatre, and wrote some original pieces. His connexion with the revolutionary movement of 1848 compelled him to seek shelter in the west of Europe, and he visited England, where a beautifully illuminated edition of his poems was printed in the original Rumanian language. In 1867 he published some fugitive pieces, written in a lighter vein, and entitled Pastele; these were followed in 1871 by the Legende of similar character. More serious are his dramatic writings which began with Despot Voda and culminated in Ovid. In later life Alecsandri tools an active part in politics; he became minister for foreign affairs from 1859 to 1860, and in 1885 was appointed Rumanian minister in Paris. He died on the 26th of August 1890 at his country seat, Mirceşti. His best title to fame consists in the fact that he gave the first impetus to the collection of Rumanian popular songs and first drew attention to their inimitable charm.

See L. Şainsanu, Autorii Români moderni (1891), pp. 90 and 318. A complete edition of Alecsandri’s writings in nine volumes was published at Bucharest in 1875 seq.  (M. G.)